A lot of people woke up to Chadwick Boseman’s death, aka the Black Panther. It has been revealed that the talented, 43 years old actor had been suffering from colon cancer since 2016, and the public had no idea about it. His passing at an early age was as shocking as his sickness to many of his fans.
No one was able to guess what this young man was going through due to not only hiding his illness from the public, but also for not letting it be an obstacle in the way of his success. It is said that he participated in seven great movies in between surgeries and chemo treatments. It is also told that he was picked on and ridiculed for losing so much weight towards the end. Unfortunately, some people interpreted it for a totally opposite reason of the truth. Little that a lot of us knew, he was fighting his own battle calmly and faithfully.
A personal story came across my mind the very moment I knew about Chad’s passing. About ten years ago, I got introduced to this one young lady from church. We were serving in the same ministry and got assigned to serve on a particular project together. She seemed decent and nice. Before hitting it off with our many projects, all the servants used to hang out in a group setting. I noticed she was always quiet and didn’t get to share as much as the rest of the group. One day, I decided to invite her for coffee to get to know her more since we would be serving together, and in case she only opens up in a one on one setting. It was very vital for me to be comfortable and a bit close with the person I am co-serving with for the sake of harmony in the service. I wanted to break the ice, so I started opening up and sharing stuff about myself, hoping that she would be encouraged to open up as well. However, all of my efforts went down the drain that day. I didn’t give up. I continued to share and open up a little more every time we met, but she was still very conservative and rigid.
Her reservation made me feel very uncomfortable. I thought that she had built walls between us. I was irritated by the fact that I was open and easy-going, yet she made me doubt myself by her stiffness. I had this dilemma for over a year until I decided to share my thoughts and feelings with the ministry’s head. I called him right away and asked if we could have a one on one meeting. During the meeting, he thoroughly listened to me without interruption. He validated all of my feelings and thoughts. He even confirmed that this must have been very frustrating and uneasy to encounter with a co-servant. At first, I felt at ease and slight relief. I asked him if he could move me to a different service with another co-servant. He paused for a second and then said, “All you think and feel is valid, Marina. However, you don’t really know what this person is going through.”
What the ministry head mentioned shocked me. What could it be? Was she conservative? Was it hard for her to open up, when it came easy and natural to me? Was she the type of person that would take so much time to be herself around others? I could not figure out what the ministry’s head meant. I insisted on him to tell me what was going on with her. And to my surprise, this 21-year young lady was suffering from severe depression due to her twin sister’s sudden passing to cancer. He just shook my world to the core with these few words. This justification, that didn’t cross my mind even once, made me feel sick to my stomach. Instantly, I felt how selfish, judgmental, and unpathetic I was with her. I felt so guilty, and I regretted every moment I resented her, every time I thought my effort with her went unnoticed, and all the bitterness I felt while serving together. In fact, she was fighting her own battle without uttering a word, while judgmental people like myself were just adding to her misery by their wrong assumptions of her.
As I continued to contemplate on Chad’s passing, I was also reminded by the blind man’s story in John 9. When the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked him who could have sinned, the man or his parents, for him to be born blind. They quickly jumped into the conclusion that this man’s blindness is a natural consequence of their sin. They didn’t allow themselves to check, think, or even pray to God to reveal the matter to them. They judged the man and his parents by his appearance until Jesus shocked them with His answer. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that God’s works might be displayed in him.” Moreover, the Pharisees didn’t stop there; they even neglected the vast miracle that just took place and focused on how Jesus didn’t keep the sabbath!
We all have a Chad in our lives, whether we know about them or not. Everyone is fighting their own battle. This story of mine was like an eye-opener. It truly humbles you to know about what other people are going through behind closed doors. It is easy to judge and jump into conclusions, but the regret and guilt one feels after learning the truth is unbearable. Let’s try to find excuses for one another; let’s talk about our struggles and be more communicative; let’s try to understand and ask before judging people. The world is in no need for more judges, and I am first, but rather people with merciful and loving hearts who contain, cover-up for others and don’t judge a book by its cover.